(revised from previous years and re-posted by popular demand. feedback welcome as always.)
I do not celebrate Christmas.
Christmas is not a “secular” or “American” holiday. It is a Christian holiday.
If you celebrate it in a secular way, it is still a secular Christian holiday. (If I celebrate Pesach/Passover in a humanist style, without reference to G-d, is it then an “American” holiday? No. It’s a secular Jewish holiday, and it’s no more universal without the G-d language than with it.)
Some Jews do celebrate Christmas. That doesn't make it a Jewish holiday.
Jews may celebrate Christmas for many reasons. Many Jews have Christians in their family. Most Jews in the US grow up in predominantly Christian communities. Many Jews have tried to assimilate over the generations, and that has meant adopting Christian practices like having a Christmas tree. It's still a Christian holiday.
Chanukah is not a Jewish version of Christmas.
Christmas is an important holiday for most contemporary Christians, based on one of the central stories of the Christian faith. Chanukah is not even a particularly religious holiday. It is primarily a cultural/historical holiday commemorating a military victory of one group of Jews, who advocated maintaining a traditional Jewish culture separate from that of the ruling empire, over another group of Jews, who advocated cooperating with imperial rulers and assimilating into the imperial (Hellenic/Syrian) culture.
It’s kinda like the aforementioned 4th of July. Only older, and with miracles.
The only reason Chanukah is such a big deal in the U.S. is because of its proximity to Christmas.
Chanukah does not occur on December 25th.
It is an eight-day festival beginning on 25 Kislev by the Jewish calendar, which is a lunar /solar calendar. The corresponding date on the Gregorian calendar, the one commonly used in public life, ranges from mid-November through late December. Therefore, do not tell me to have a happy Chanukah unless you know when Chanukah falls this year, and that it’s not over. Cheat sheet for 2009/5770: Chanukah begins at sundown on Friday, December 11.
Chanukah may be spelled several ways:
Hanukkah, Hanukah, Chanukkah, Chanukah, etc. That’s because it’s a Hebrew word, and it’s actually spelled like this: חֲנוּכָּה. Chanukah is probably the closest transliteration for the Hebrew - more like Channikke for the Yiddish. It sounds like it looks, only the initial H or Ch sounds like the guttural sound at the end of the composer Bach.
I don’t care how you spell it. Just don’t tell me how weird it is that it has multiple spellings. I’m over it. If you can’t say the Ch sound without spitting on me, then just say H and keep your germs to yourself.
There’s no such thing as a Chanukah bush.
Did you really need to be told that? Christian hegemony appropriated the tradition from Celtic pagans, and now is trying to impose it on Jews. We already have pretty stuff for the holiday. We don’t need Jew-ish-ified trees, wreathes, elves or mistletoe.
Some Jews Have Chanukah Bushes.
See above, under "Some Jews Celebrate Christmas"
Chanukah is not a good excuse to tell me about your best friend, neighbor, or distant relative who is a Jew.
If you didn’t care enough to tell me the rest of the year, then I don’t care to hear about it now.
Don’t try to impress me with how much you know about Chanukah or about Judaism.
It’s a safe bet I know a whole lot more than that about Christmas and Christianity. Not cause I’m so smart or so studied. Just cause y’all are everywhere.
“Happy Holidays” is not an acceptable secular substitute for “Merry Christmas.”
No matter what words you use, we both know you’re only saying it because of Christmas. Otherwise, you would say it in September/October and March/April, when I’m observing major religious holidays, as well as in December, when you are.
This is not about your Free Speech.
In recent years, a few people who should know better have said things to me about Christmas that sound suspiciously like the ultra-conservative "war on Christmas" rhetoric. Stuff like, "Department stores cannot dictate how their employees greet customers during the holidays. If they want to say Merry Christmas, that's their free speech." Or "People can't stop people from putting up Christmas decorations in the town square. That's their free speech."
Good try, but, this is not about your free speech. Employees do not have the right to say whatever they want while they're working. They sell their free speech along with their labor during the hours they're getting paid. And I'm only prepared to grant "free speech" that's free, as in not paid for - especially not with public money. Go ahead, speak about Christmas all you want. But don't use public funds to speak about Christmas.
Anyway, no one is trying to stop you from saying Merry Christmas to your friends and loved ones, or on your Christmas cards. That's exactly where the greeting belongs. I just don't want you saying it to me, especially not all day every day for all of December. And I really don't want to pay for your Christmas decorations through public funds, and be subjected to them in public spaces.